NM Supreme Court: Christian Photographers Must ‘Compromise’ Faith, Shoot Homosexual ‘Weddings’

elane.photographySANTA FE — The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously on Thursday that Christian photographers may not refuse to shoot homosexual ‘weddings’ in the state, as all citizens must ‘compromise … to accommodate the contrasting views of others.’

As previously reported, Elane Huguenin and her husband Jon run Elane Photography in Albuquerque. In 2006, when Vanessa Willock, a lesbian, approached Elane and requested that she photograph her commitment ceremony, Huguenin declined, stating that she only covers traditional weddings.

The situation soon ended up before the New Mexico Human Rights Commission, who ruled against Huguenin in 2008, stating that she was guilty of violating the state’s “sexual orientation” discrimination law. New Mexico law prohibits “any person in a public accommodation to make a distinction, directly or indirectly, in offering or refusing to offer its services …to any person because of…sexual orientation.” The commission then ordered the photographer to pay nearly $7,000 in fines for refusing to shoot the ceremony.

Huguenin appealed the decision in December 2009, arguing that forcing her to go against her beliefs regarding homosexuality would be like forcing African Americans to photograph Klu Klux Klan members. Last June, the Mexico State Court of Appeals released a 45-page opinion upholding the guilty verdict.

“The owners of Elane Photography must accept the reasonable regulations and restrictions imposed upon the conduct of their commercial enterprise despite their personal religious beliefs that may conflict with these government interests,” Judge Tim Garcia wrote on behalf of the panel. “The Klu-Klux-Klan is not a protected class. Sexual orientation, however, is protected.”

The Christian legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) then appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously today that Huguenin must shoot homosexual weddings despite her convictions. The panel was comprised of Justices Patricia Serna, Petra Jimenez Maes, Edward Chavels, Richard Bosson and Charles Daniels.

“[W]e conclude that a commercial photography business that offers its services to the public, thereby increasing its visibility to potential clients, is subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the [New Mexico Human Rights Act] and must serve same-sex couples on the same basis that it serves opposite-sex couples,” it wrote. “Therefore, when Elane Photography refused to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony, it violated the NMHRA in the same way as if it had refused to photograph a wedding between people of different races.”

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Justice Richard C. Bosson, who wrote a concurring opinion, had even stronger words regarding the matter.

“[T]he Huguenins…now are compelled by law to compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives,” he wrote. “Though the rule of law requires it, the result is sobering. It will no doubt leave a tangible mark on the Huguenins and others of similar views.”

Bosson asserted that while the Huguenins are being forced by the court to compromise the commandments of God, everyone must make concessions in life over matters that violate their conscience. He outlined that the Huguenins may freely live out their faith privately, but when it comes to running a public business, they will have to “pay the price” and check their Christian convictions at the door.

“On a larger scale, this case provokes reflection on what this nation is all about, its promise of fairness, liberty, equality of opportunity, and justice. At its heart, this case teaches that at some point in our lives all of us must compromise, if only a little, to accommodate the contrasting values of others. A multicultural, pluralistic society, one of our nation’s strengths, demands no less,” he wrote. “The Huguenins are free to think, to say, to believe, as they wish; they may pray to the God of their choice and follow those commandments in their personal lives wherever they lead. The Constitution protects the Huguenins in that respect and much more. But there is a price, one that we all have to pay somewhere in our civic life.”

“In the smaller, more focused world of the marketplace, of commerce, of public accommodation, the Huguenins have to channel their conduct, not their beliefs, so as to leave space for other Americans who believe something different,” Bosson continued. “That compromise is part of the glue that holds us together as a nation, the tolerance that lubricates the varied moving parts of us as a people. … In short, I would say to the Huguenins, with the utmost respect: it is the price of citizenship.”

ADF decried the ruling, opining that it goes against the fundamental freedoms of conscience and expression.

“Government-coerced expression is a feature of dictatorships that has no place in a free country. This decision is a blow to our client and every American’s right to live free,” stated Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence, who argued the case before the court. “Decisions like this undermine the constitutionally protected freedoms of expression and conscience that we have all taken for granted. America was founded on the fundamental freedom of every citizen to live and work according to their beliefs and not to be compelled by the government to express ideas and messages they decline to support.”

ADF is now considering appealing the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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  • Just an Idea

    My suggestion to the Huguenins would be to put a big sign on their photography equipment, wear a T-shirt and perhaps even recite during their homosexual wedding photo shoots, Leviticus 18, Romans 1:26-27 and other appropriate verses related to homosexual acts.

    That way they are sharing the word of God with those who need to hear it.

  • Lisa Lind

    Everyone with an ear to hear and an eye to read…..Get your houses ready! The Bride will soon be out of here… Thank You Jesus….Even So, Come!!!!! Hallelujah!!!

  • Tracy

    I’m a photographer too… not a wedding photographer, thankfully…but it just floors me that someone would want someone who is uncomfortable or anti their lifestyle shooting their wedding. I would be SO uncomfortable posing a gay couple and it would absolutely show in my work. There are many fabulous liberal wedding photographers, why would they not just go to one of them. Their images will reflect their photographers comfort level and vision. I’d be posing a gay couple like they were friends, not something more… Just my thoughts. It just doesn’t make sense!

  • Cindy Maury

    I’m actually writing a response to “Bill Sargeant”, I didn’t want to have to sign back into my mail account to post my reply.
    Bill stated “This is the exact same thing as what happened when inter-racial marriages became legal. People claimed that it violated their religious beliefs. The KKK example is pretty pathetic because it is more like forcing the KKK to take pictures of black people getting married (they were against that). After all the KKK is a Christian organization and that would go against their beliefs.”

    Here’s what I wanted to say to Bill: The KKK is most CERTAINLY NOT a TRUE Christian ‘organization’; NO ONE that names the name of The Lord Jesus Christ would EVER, EVER, EVER commit murder and mayhem and violence against another race because they hate that whole race. They might ‘believe in’ God; but all the demons ‘believe in’ God too; and it does nothing for them, it sure doesn’t make them “Christians”.

  • Chas

    Why would any body hire “someone who is uncomfortable or anti their lifestyle shooting their wedding”? Because it’s not about getting a certain photographer to do the wedding. It’s about FORCING a Christian photographer to do it. This is about pushing the homosexual agenda, not about “customer service”.

    It’s also about deconstructing the Bill of Rights. Remember “Animal Farm”?

    “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.”

  • Tom Johnson

    Apparently you selectively read your Bible, if you read it at all. Check out Matthew 22:15-22. It is the long term policy of this country (indeed extremely wise so that one religious group cannot discriminate against another), that if you are offering a service to the public, you must do so without discrimination.

    Jesus doesn’t save your hateful ways, nor your hate. I’m sure you refuse your services to shrimp eaters and people who wear cloths made of two different materials (Read Leviticus please). Of course you don’t. HYPOCRITE. Know your Bible and love it.

    Your take up the banner of Christianity, without having the slightest idea of its meaning. Shame on you.

    • DB

      The hateful ones are those who want to force others to compromise their faith to fulfill a secular definition of what constitutes inappropriate discrimination. Of course, all choices involve discrimination in one form or another, so if a consumer decides to not use a Christian-based service because he or she disagrees with the Christian affiliation, that is discrimination as well. Of course, that kind of discrimination is okay according to secular “ethics.”

      I wonder if you and others of a similar hateful mindset would oppose the Huguenins and others like them if they advertised and made clear that their services were being offered not to the public at large, but to Christians with a certain set of beliefs that would be clearly posted and made clear to any potential customers. By so advertising and serving in this manner, they would not be offering a service to the public at large.

      Wanna bet that the secular authorities (and probably you as well) would still find something wrong with this due to a selective, secular outrage involving a particular kind of “discrimination” that they believe is wrong according to their juvenile moral compass that does not respect inherent freedom and rights to engage in commerce with people they freely choose to work with and/or serve?

    • E Young

      We are first of all true to The Lord and his laws. True Christians would never serve whoever the current “Caesar” happens to be if it conficts with God’s Word which in this case and many others it clearly does.

  • BeBe Ivy

    If the world hates you, count it as good because Jesus said,

    ” You will be hated by all because of My Name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” Matt 10:22/Mark 13:13;
    ” and you will be hated by all because of My Name.” Luke 21:17;
    “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18

  • John

    This is the same Alsatian-speak of the Prez – freedom of religions is restricted to freedom to worship privately but faith has no impact on your daily life. Where is compromise to accommate others? The reasoning in the case was non-existent and absurdly contradictory. She needs to go to the SCOTUS though 4 of them don’t know the Constitution either and one was wobbly enough to vote in ObamaCare which clearly is.unconstitutional.

  • Dave

    The biblical response to the courts ruleing would be to perform that task.In the first century,Roman soldiers on the march,could command any locals to carry their packs one mile,Jesus said,go two.In Luke 6:30,the command is to give to those who ask.This speaks to how we are to deal with enemys of the Gospel.We should do more than what wads asked in these cases This is heaping hot coals upon their heads.Meaning to shame them.”Be not overcome of evil,but overcome evil with good.”. Rom.12:20-21
    “Dearly beloved,avenge not yourselves,but rather give place unto wrath:for it is writen,Vengeance is mine;I will repay,dairy the Lord.”Rom.12:19
    “If it be possible,as much as (depends on you),live peaceable with all men. “Rom. 12:18
    I think that to fight for our constitutional rights as to our religious freedoms is a must.Doing the photo shoot could have been an oportunity to have reached someone there with the Gospel.A mission trip if you will.I doubt that their services would have been requested again 🙂

  • jmichael39

    As a former professional photographer, you can rest assured I wouldn’t care what they said I had to do. If I were confronted with a decision whether to compromise my faith or be fined and/or even imprisoned, they can take anything they want from me, but I will not compromise my faith in God.

    Alright, all the normal trolls who come to a Christian site to mock and ridicule that which you have understanding of, begin your attacks and mocking. I don’t even remotely care. It’s honest sad what this country is becoming right before our very eyes.